“Wow! That’s really bright!”
I squinted up at the top of the stairs, shielding my eyes with my hand. A sense of uncertainty filled me as I climbed the first two.
I swallowed uneasily. “Y…” I cleared my throat. “Yes?”
“Are you coming up?”
I was being given a choice? Really? That was totally cool. I bet that doesn't happen very often.
I sat down about halfway up, my back to the light. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir started singing Handel’s Messiah. It was beautiful – heavenly – and I wondered if John Williams was conducting. Then I wondered if John Williams was dead, which was important to know under the circumstances, if you get my drift.
The choir stopped abruptly in mid-note. I took that to mean that it was time for me to make my decision. It was easy.
I stood up and turned around to face the light. “No, I can’t come up right now,” I answered, my voice quavering and my knees shaking. “I haven’t finished my tasks down here yet.” I thought about my sons, who still needed me even if they were nearly grown. My husband, parents, sister, close friends counted on me. Besides, I hadn’t even started on that PhD I wanted to earn.
“OK. When you come up, though, would you please bring a Phillips head screwdriver?”
Huh? I thought you couldn’t take anything with you when you went. Hand tools must be a little-known exception.
“Sure. Uh, no problem.” I backed down the stairs, feeling relieved when I got to the bottom. That had been a close call. I sat down abruptly in the nearest kitchen chair and wiped the sweat from my forehead. I thought of all the things I still hadn’t done in my life, and more importantly, of all the people I hadn’t said “I love you” to in a long time. I was still sitting there when my husband walked into the kitchen.
“I didn’t realize it was going to take you an hour to bring up the screwdriver,” he joked, choosing the one he wanted from the kitchen junk drawer. “Aren’t you ready to come up to bed yet?”
“You wanted a screwdriver?” I asked. I was definitely confused.
“What’s wrong with you? You told me you’d bring the screwdriver when you came up,” he countered. “I fixed the stereo in the bedroom, but I need the screwdriver to change the bulbs in that fixture in the stairway. I accidentally put in 60 watt bulbs instead of 40 watt this morning. Didn’t you notice that it was as bright as a summer day in Key West in there?”
“Bright as a summer day….” I parroted.
He patted my head and hauled me to my feet. “Come on, my love. It’s bedtime for you. You’ve obviously had a long day.”
I followed him, frowning and still confused. Had I just had a close encounter with death or hadn’t I? I pondered that question while I put on my pajamas and brushed my teeth.
It was only at the very last minute before I fell asleep that I realized that it didn’t matter. I got it.
BTW: John Williams is very much alive. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0002354/bio